Vatican City, Nov 16, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Vatican has unveiled a new tool for evangelization in the form of a van equipped with 17 high-definition cameras for live and outdoor broadcasting.
The Holy See's Vatican Television Center received the state-of-the-art van from Sony on Nov. 16.
Fr. Federico Lombardi, head of the Vatican Press Office, said the new mobile broadcasting unit was a much-needed upgrade. He noted that it has previously taken three smaller trucks to carry the same number of cameras, without the benefit of high-definition technology.
He also noted the increasing use of high-definition video for documentaries and television programs. Thus, the Vatican spokesman explained, a switch to high-definition was “a necessary step” to ensure the Church's media presence.
“Otherwise,” he said, “the image of the Pope would gradually have disappeared from television screens during the coming years.”
Vatican Television currently broadcasts around 200 live programs every year, including celebrations in St. Peter's Square, the Pope's recitation of the Angelus and his accompanying talks, and some live concerts.
The Knights of Columbus covered nearly a quarter of the $6 million cost for the new broadcasting van.
Carl Anderson, the fraternal order's Supreme Knight, said he was grateful for the opportunity to help the Vatican broadcast the Gospel message.
Citing the example of Jesus' own public speeches and the journeys of the apostles, he said there was “an unbroken Catholic tradition of bringing Christ to the greatest number of people possible, in the clearest manner available.”
High-definition television, Anderson said, is becoming a important forum for ideas and culture. He observed that while technology and social conditions change, and lead the Church to propose its message in new ways, the message itself is unchanging.
“It is our hope that this new technology in the service of evangelization will serve as a conduit,” he announced, “bringing to every corner of the earth the word of God ... in the most technologically clear and advanced manner that has ever been possible, and transforming the lives of countless people.”
Archbishop Claudio M. Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, reported that his office had not yet chosen a name for the new high-definition broadcasting service.
But he was effusive about the technology's potential, calling the update “the latest act … to create frank, open dialogue” on a “technologically sophisticated plane.” Archbishop Celli also mentioned a possible future project, geared toward consolidating multiple Vatican news sources into one.
Fr. Lombardi said that after a series of “final modifications,” the van “should be up and running in time for Christmas.”
Mexico City, Mexico, Nov 16, 2010 (CNA) - The communications office of the Archdiocese of Xalapa, Mexico has told public officials that Mexicans need to see results in the fight against violence in the country. The office's statement came a week after a local incoming mayor was killed.
The office issued Nov. 14 statement expressing the archdiocese’s indignation and repudiation of “all criminal acts that take the lives of innocent people, filling the lives of many families with sadness and uncertainty.”
It also expressed solidarity with the family members of the mayor-elect of the city of Juan Rodriguez Clara. Incoming Mayor Gregorio Barradas Miravete was kidnapped and killed along with two other officials on Nov. 8.
The archdiocese expressed hope that the government “will take up the lack of security with renewed determination.” The statement called for “honest police officers who are properly trained and compensated.” It also said new efforts must be made to create jobs and combat poverty.
“We are willing to support any initiatives that are oriented toward personal and social re-invigoration and that will help form new men and women,” the statement indicated.
Vatican City, Nov 16, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Officials from Iran and the Vatican, meeting in Tehran, announced agreement on a set of principles concerning freedom of religion and government.
Governments, the officials said, must “respect” religious freedom as “a right inherent to human dignity,” and must respect the equal rights of religious groups to participate in the political life of their nations.
The Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue and the Iranian-based Center for Inter-Religious Dialogue of the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization held their seventh colloquium in Tehran Nov. 9-11.
On Nov. 16, the Vatican released a statement of six principles the group agreed upon.
Among them, the group urged Christians, Muslims and all believers, to “cooperate in the search for the common good.” They also promised to work together in “answering modern challenges, promoting moral values, justice and peace and protecting the family, environment and natural resources.”
On the sensitive issue of religious freedom, the two sides agreed that religion cannot be “confined to the private sphere,” as a matter of personal preference. Religion, they said, has “an inherent social dimension,” and believers and religious communities “have a specific role to play in society, on an equal footing with other citizens.”
“Faith, by its very nature, requires freedom,” the two sides agreed. “Therefore, religious freedom, as a right inherent to human dignity, must always be respected by individuals, social actors and the State. The cultural and historical background of each society which is not in contradiction with human dignity should be taken into consideration in applying this fundamental principle.”
The next colloquium will take place in Rome in 2012.
The Vatican was represented by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the pontifical council. While in Tehran, Cardinal Tauran delivered a letter from Pope Benedict XVI to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The Pope’s letter was a response to an October letter from Ahmadinejad in which he asked the Vatican’s help to address issues of religious intolerance, secularism, and the breakup of families.
In his response, the Pope issued a pointed call for Iran to open bilateral talks on “the juridical status of the Catholic Church in the country.”
Currently, Catholics are relatively free to worship but the Church has no official legal standing in Iranian society.
Pope Benedict said that “the ultimate foundation” of human dignity is the individual’s relation with God.
"When the promotion of the dignity of the human person is the primary inspiration of political and social activity that is committed to search for the common good, solid and enduring foundations are created for building peace and harmony between peoples," the Pope said.
Baltimore, Md., Nov 16, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - A well-known Church analyst says the election of Archbishop Timothy Dolan as president of the U.S. bishops' conference is a confirmation that the bishops want a strong, outspoken leader to guide the Church in an increasingly polarized and secular culture.
Few experts would have predicted that Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York would be chosen as president of the U.S. bishops' conference. He won the election in a close run-off with Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, the previous vice president of the conference. The election produced uncharacteristically divided results, especially considering the fact that the choice of the sitting vice president as the new conference head is usually close to unanimous.
Church analyst Rocco Palmo called the move a “seismic shift,” telling CNA that the election of Archbishop Dolan indicated a desire on the part of the bishops to continue the trend of strong and outspoken leadership.
Since a 50 percent majority is required for a candidate to be elected, the vote had to be taken three times before a president was chosen.
The clear contenders out of the 10 candidates for presidency were Archbishop Dolan and Bishop Kicanas. By the third round, the New York prelate garnered 128 votes (54 percent) and Bishop Kicanas received 111 votes (46 percent).
The vote for the vice president was equally divided. The top two candidates for the position were Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Lousiville, Ky., who won with 147 votes over Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, who garnered 91.
The Nov. 16 vote for president made history as the bishops have traditionally always elected the incumbent vice president to serve as the next president.
But Bishop Kicanas had previously faced controversy for allegedly allowing a seminarian with a history of a sexual misconduct with a minor to be ordained while he was rector of Mundelein Seminary at the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Illinois. Then-Father Kicanas became head of the seminary in 1984 and Fr. Daniel McCormack was ordained a priest in 1994.
Fr. McCormack would later be accused of sexually abusing 23 boys. In 2006 he was suspended from active ministry for allegations that he sexually abused two under-aged males. Fr. McCormack was sentenced to prison for five years in 2007.
Bishop Kicanas has denied claims that he knew of Fr. McCormack's history before the priest was ordained.
Releasing a statement after his defeat on Nov. 16, Bishop Kicanas said “I respect the wisdom of my brother bishops in choosing their new president and vice president.”
“Archbishop Timothy Dolan has been a long time friend since our seminary work together,” he added. “I know of his great wit, jovial spirit, keen ability to relate to people in a deeply personal way and his exceptional leadership qualities.”
Audible gasps were heard in the room as the vote for presidency came down to Archbishop Dolan and Bishop Kicanas on Tuesday morning.
“I am still out of breath,” Rocco Palmo, author of the blog Whispers in the Loggia, told CNA, just after the election. “Never before in history” has a standing vice president not been elected as president of the conference.
The only occasion in the existence of the conference where the vice president was not elected as president was an instance where the candidate in question, Cardinal John Carberry of St. Louis, would have retired before the end of his three year term as president.
“It represents a seismic shift,” Palmo said. “Above all, it's an indication of everything Cardinal George has been and done over his tenure the last three years in really kind of raising the level of bishops' outspokenness in moral clarity and moral courage, especially in the health care fight.”
It's also an indication of Archbishop Dolan's rising position, he said. The New York archbishop “has been unstintingly strong in his defense of the Holy Father and the defense of the right of Catholics to be treated fairly in the press, as he sees it.”
“Literally, it feels like the world is watching,” Palmo added. “Word is already going around.”
Palmo also said the election shows a desire on the part of the conference to keep up a “new tradition” of “strong leadership.”
Because of Archbishop Dolan's role as head of what is one of the most prominent archdioceses in the world, Palmo said the new USCCB president's tenure will be worth watching.
“Buckle your seat belts – it's going to be a fun ride.”
Archbishop Dolan, who leads an archdiocese of 2.5 million Catholics in New York, has shown himself comfortable and outspoken in presenting the Church's stance on hot-button issues since his appointment to the post in early 2009. A regular critic of the New York Times, Archbishop Dolan has had no qualms about speaking his opinion.
The New York leader has also effectively utilized technology during his time in office, starting his own blog called “The Gospel in the Digital Age.” A prominent figure in New York City, he recently offered to meet with political leaders and moderate the highly controversial Islamic center and mosque slated to be built near Ground Zero – the site of the 2001 terrorist attacks.
Born in 1950, the archbishop is the first of five children to Shirley Radcliffe Dolan and the late Robert Dolan. In 1964, he began his high school seminary education at St. Louis Preparatory Seminary South in Shrewsbury, Mo.
After studying at Cardinal Glennon College and then at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, Archbishop Dolan was ordained a priest on June 19, 1976.
On June 19, 2001, he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of St. Louis by Pope John Paul II. He was then named Archbishop of Milwaukee by Pope John Paul II in 2002. Archbishop Dolan took the reigns of the Archdiocese of New York when Pope Benedict XVI appointed him in February of 2009.
Lima, Peru, Nov 16, 2010 (CNA) - The president of the Peruvian bishops' committee on the family has warned the country's Congress that lowering the age of sexual consent will turn Peru into a “sexual paradise” for tourists interested in child prostitution.
The Peruvian Congress is currently debating a measure that would lower the legal age of sexual consent from 18 to 14 years old.
Archbishop Jose Antonio Eguren of Piura, Peru called the proposal “absurd and purposeless.”
“What do we want? Do we want this number to go up? Do we want sexual relations among teens to increase and thus see a rise in the number of pregnancies among teen girls?” the archbishop asked.
Archbishop Eguren said passing the measure would be “giving license to the unscrupulous to take advantage of minors who are not mature enough to understand the magnitude of sexuality.”
He added that statistics from Peru's government “indicate that less than 15 percent of teens have engaged in sexual activity before the age of 18.” The archbishop rejected claims by the Congressional Judicial Committee chairman, Rolando Sousa, who said the number was actually closer to 40 percent.
“In countries with more liberal laws than our own, sexual relations with minors is a crime that is not subject to any statute of limitations,” he said. “I would appeal to the good judgment of our lawmakers not to pass this measure and to instead take steps to protect and promote young people and the family,” he added.
Washington D.C., Nov 16, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The U.S. bishops have elected Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York as president of the U.S. bishops' conference.
The move was unprecedented, as the bishops traditionally choose the previous vice president to serve as head of the conference.
Bishop Gerald Kicanas is the conference's former vice president. He held the position 2007 – 2010.
Since a 50 percent majority is required for a candidate to be elected, the Nov. 16 vote was taken three times before a president was chosen.
The clear contenders of the 10 candidates for presidency were Archbishop Dolan and Bishop Kicanas. By the third round, the New York prelate garnered 128 votes - 54 percent, and Bishop Kicanas received 111 votes - 46 percent.
The vote for the vice president was equally divided. Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville was elected to the position with 147 votes over Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver who garnered 91.
Baltimore, Md., Nov 16, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - If the hotly debated Proposition 8 in California is overturned by the judicial system, the cultural impact of defeating the traditional marriage initiative will be “akin to Roe v. Wade,” said Archbishop Joseph Kurtz at the ongoing fall bishops' meeting.
Archbishop Kurtz, who is the Chairman of the U.S. bishops' Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage and Family Life, made his comments Nov. 15 at the bishops' three-day fall assembly in Baltimore, Maryland.
During his remarks, the archbishop asserted that if Prop. 8 – which is expected to reach the Supreme Court – is struck down, “the decision will have a moral, legal and cultural impact” similar to the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion.
“In our nation we find ourselves at a moment of great opportunity but also great consequence,” he said.
“The urgency of our priority to promote, protect and strengthen marriage has not abated,” he said, noting that over the last year, attempts to redefine marriage have moved from the state level to the federal level.
“So, in a sense, today is like 1970 for marriage,” he said. “If, in 1970, you knew that Roe v. Wade were coming in two or three years, what would you have done differently?”
“And so now, the vital question that stands before all of us in this country is: What will we do for marriage?”
Archbishop Kurtz then recalled the Pope's visit to the U.S. in 2008, where the Pontiff “summoned us to remember our duty as bishops” and to “boldly” proclaim and uphold the institution of marriage – defined as between one man and one woman.
The Ad Hoc committee, he noted, “seeks to assist this proclamation.”
Briefly updating the bishops on the recent work of the committee in conjunction with Knights of Columbus, the archbishop discussed the launching of their “Marriage: Unique for a reason” instructional campaign, including video and booklets.
A short video from the next series on the topic of marriage's benefits for children called “Made for Life” was also screened at the conference.
“Brothers,” he told his fellow bishops, “our proclamation makes a difference. Even recent polling indicates this difference, as those who go to church every Sunday are more likely to support the true meaning of marriage.”
“And this support has remained steady, despite the challenges of our culture,” he emphasized.
Atlanta, Ga., Nov 16, 2010 (CNA) - The Pontifical Council for Culture and the Camartis Institute are calling for more North American partners and sponsors for an event aimed at bringing together people from the Hollywood movie industry and the Catholic Church.
The overall initiative, called “From Sea to Shining Sea: Faith and Culture in North America,” is intended to bring together leading North American Catholics and leading non-Catholic intellectuals to discuss themes such as the human experience, technology, politics, the arts and science.
The next event of the initiative, planned for March 2011 in Hollywood, California, will focus on the arts. The event will bring together filmmakers, movie studio executives and church leaders.
Organizers are seeking to cooperate with institutions and organizations regardless of religious or secular affiliation to bring the event to fruition.
"The influence of cultural tendencies in the United States has a ripple effect throughout the world. That's why it's so important for the Church to begin a new dialogue with culture in the United States,” explained Msgr. Melchor Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, the undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture.
"We are trying to bridge what (Pope) Paul VI called 'the great divide between the Church and culture.’ He called this a drama, the drama of our time."
Dr. Max Bonilla, president of the Camartis Institute and spokesman for the series, said the initiative will appeal to many because it intends a “serious and sincere dialogue where the truth can be pursued without bias of any type.”
“Always respectful, yet intensely sincere conversations are the main goal of the series,” he added.
Proposals from prospective partners will be accepted through Jan. 17, 2011. More information is available through the “From Sea to Shining Sea” website at http://intelligentdialogue.org/
Puerto Iguazú, Nov 16, 2010 (CNA) - Bishop Marcelo Raul Martorell of Puerto Iguazu, Argentina reminded Catholics on Nov. 14 that God will always watch over those who are persecuted because of their faith in Christ. Even in “the extreme cases of losing their lives,” he explained, “they will have gained eternal life.”
In his Sunday homily, the bishop noted that “our worries, protests or arguments will not obtain the victory for us, but rather our perseverance in faith in Christ and our trust in him, despite the storms that engulf us.”
“Often in life it seems that evil triumphs,” he said. Often, “those who ignore God find success and fortune while those who do good, who exercise charity and keep the precepts of the Lord suffer illness, sorrow and the inequity of man,” he continued. Nevertheless, “the day will come when God himself will put things in their proper place and impart justice.”
“The day of judgment will be like a devastating fire for those who spread death and do not respect life as a gift from God,” the bishop warned. “We must be cautious and discerning,” he noted. “We must not listen to those who contradict Scripture, and those who are not in line with the Church and the Pope’s teachings.”
Baltimore, Md., Nov 16, 2010 (CNA) - Military Archbishop Timothy Broglio told bishops at their annual gathering in Baltimore that the U.S. military is facing an alarming shortage of priests that is increasingly leading Catholic servicemen to seek help from Protestant pastors.
Calling it a “pastoral problem” that “affects all of us,” Archbishop Broglio appealed to bishops across the U.S. during the annual Nov. 15-18 meeting in Baltimore to consider sending more priests to help serve in the military.
“As you know, the Archdiocese for the Military Services assures the pastoral care for people from your respective particular churches,” he told the bishops. When these people “hang up their uniforms and return home,” he added, “I would like to be able to return them to you as Catholics.”
Approximately one fourth of active duty personnel – 400,000 people – and their immediate families are Catholic, he said.
At present, these Catholics “are served by only 275 priests in a territory that covers the globe,” the archbishop noted. “Those numbers will shrink in the coming years.”
Because many in the armed services often face grave situations, he said, questions about the meaning of life and the existence of God often surface.
“They are at great risk because there are not nearly enough priests to meet their needs,” he said. Speaking of the growing trend for Catholics to seek help from Protestant ministers, Archbishop Broglio said “our separated brothers and sisters are more than eager to fill the gap created by the absence of a priest.”
“If we are not there,” he said, “someone else will be.”
Archbishop Broglio also lamented the increasing amount of suicides that occur in the military. He said that one suicide occurred per day this last June in the U.S. armed forces and asserted that the presence of a priest is essential in helping prevent future “tragedies.”
“We cannot abandon” service men and women “at the moment of their greatest need,” he added.
Archbishop Broglio concluded his remarks by urging the bishops in attendance at the annual meeting to “to consider sending one more priest to the military.” He also appealed for the bishops to designate a day of prayer for peace, an end to suicides, and to express gratitude to U.S. military personnel.